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Same Owner 47 Years: 1974 Pontiac Firebird Formula

The Formula was like the upscale Firebird Trans Am without all the glitz and glamour. Under the hood, they could be ordered from mild to wild and looked less assuming than the Burt Reynolds edition from Smokey and the Bandit. This ’74 Formula has had the same owner since 1976 and it was his/her first car which is now a reluctant sell. It doesn’t have the original engine, but lots of other stuff is. Located in Hollywood, Florida, this ‘Bird is available here on eBay where the bidding stands at $22,500.

In the mid-1970s, the Formula was advertised as an alternative to the Trans Am which could be ordered with all of the Trans Am’s options except for the fender flares, shaker scoop, and fender heat extractors. In the Firebird pecking order, the models were the Base, Esprit, Formula, and Trans Am. At 14,519 copies sold in 1974, that would be Formula’s best year to date, which was an accomplishment in itself given rising gas prices spurred by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo.

The ’74 Firebird was a heavier car due to the 5 and 2.5 mph front/rear bumpers that were now required by the Feds. They featured a redesigned “shovel-nose” front end and new, wide “slotted” taillights; this would be the last year before the back glass became a wraparound piece. The 350 cubic inch V8 was standard in the ‘74 Formula, with 400, 455, and SD-455 engines offered.

To get more power, the seller replaced the original 350 with a 400 custom-built V8 that has less than 5,000 miles, has a mild camshaft, headers, and an electronic ignition. Recent changes include a new carburetor, fuel pump, and brakes. We’re told a dyno test would likely establish the horsepower rating as north of 400. But the original engine was retained and goes with the car on a stand. It’s been rebuilt and comes ready to use in this car or another should you wish.

The Firebird has its factory 4-speed manual, 15” Cragar mag wheels, a high-ratio rear end, and a beefed-up suspension. The Pontiac sports its original blue color which is a repaint from about 20 years ago and still presents well. The interior is a mixed bag with fading apparent in the upholstery, door panels, and carpeting. The A/C is also due for a recharge. So, if you were looking for a solid second-gen Firebird that’s not a Trans Am and with two working engines, could you go wrong with this Formula?


  1. PJ

    The hood doesn’t seem to fit right

    Like 1
    • Fred

      I had a few of these formula hoods, they were fiberglass and none ever seemed to fit right, especially along the middle of the fenders.

      Like 7
  2. Oldschool muscle

    Front looks a bit strange to me???? I dont recall them looking like this or maybe i forgot …..

    Like 0
    • Mark

      After market Trans Am style fender flares

      Like 5
  3. Carl

    I m pretty sure the SD455 was not available in the Formula. Like, 100% sure.

    Like 2
    • Fred

      The Super duty was a aila le in the Formula in 1974. It came with the Trans Am shaker good but no flares or fender vents.

      Like 13
      • Stve H

        Very true . . I almost ordered a Super Duty formula in October 1973, but the dealer said it would take at least six months to come in – I ordered a Formula 400 with every option instead. ( $5,600 ) When I saw they were coming through with the Trans Am hood, I was glad it worked out the way it did.

        Like 0
    • SDomko327

      The SD455 was available in the 1973 and 1974 Trans Am and Formula Firebirds!!

      Like 0
    • Glen Riddle

      They were very rare, but Pontiac made 101 SD-455 Formulas, 43 for ’73 and 58 for ’74.

      Like 6
  4. BA

    One of the best looking Firebirds in my book with the round headlights & ground effects wheel flares with not all formulas ordered that way which gives it a different look & that formula hood with ram air snorkels with most not having the plumbing was the money shot the Trans Am didn’t get ! The early firebirds were the years IMHO cemented themselves as icons of muscle cars not just because of the 455 HO or SD455 but they looked the part too

    Like 9
    • 19sixty5 Member

      Exactly zero Formulas were ordered with “ground effects wheel flares”, they were only available with the Trans Am. These are tacky aftermarket flares with the even tackier rear flares around the wheel openings. Last year of the small rear window, but I prefer the 70-73 style bumper treatments. Shoulda kept my 73 T/A…

      Like 9
  5. Robert West

    Not sure which is the lesser of two evils here. The original engine is gone, which is the main selling point for any classic car. On the other hand, the car now has a big block that it should have come with in the first place.

    Like 5
    • Robert West

      Never mind. I see that the original engine is included. Good thinking.

      Like 7
    • 19sixty5 Member

      Bigger engine displacement, but not a big block. Pontiacs share the same basic V8 blocks, with different bore/stroke combinations.

      Like 21
      • Tman

        It’s amazing how many still don’t know the no such thing as a big block small block Pontiac!

        Like 4
      • Donnie L Sears

        Just like Oldsmobile. No big block and small block. People get confused because Chevrolet made a small block 400.

        Like 2
    • Johan

      It doesn’t have a big block in it

      Like 0
      • T. King

        Donnie L Sears
        Feb 11, 2023 at 12:44pm
        “Just like Oldsmobile. No big block and small block. People get confused because Chevrolet made a small block 400.”

        Yes, Olds tall deck engines are big blocks and the short deck engines are small blocks. (455, 425, 400 ’65-’69, are BB. 260,307,330,350,403 are SB)
        The ; intake manifolds, exhaust manifolds, crankshafts,pushrods, and connecting rods do not interchange btw the two !

        Like 0
  6. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Best looking formula firebird I’ve seen in a very long time. I like the added front spoiler and the ones around the wheel openings. I knew someone with a red formula and did the same thing. It’s worth the price. Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 8
  7. S

    It looks like it has white vinyl seats and door panels with a blue dash and console. Pretty sure it’s not faded – though the carpet appears to be faded blue. Not sure I’ve ever seen white with blue but it’s possible. This is definitely an interesting find. Even if the engine and fender flares are not original, the owner was thinking of their enjoyment of the car, not what the next owner was going to think of it.

    Like 4
    • Andy G.

      ” Even if the engine and fender flares are not original, the owner was thinking of their enjoyment of the car, not what the next owner was going to think of it.”
      I like this comment, I’m open-minded but I feel like I’m in the minority around here that I look at cars as “drivers” not as “collectables”

      Like 1
  8. Rob Jay

    Nice looking car. Not sure how they got north of 400hp with nothing more than a mild cam?

    Like 4
    • Roland Schoenke

      Elimination of the emmision system alone would open up alot of lost power. I did this with my ’79 Corvette, new intake, carb, ignition system, cam, and exhaust. It was like a new car.

      Like 1
      • douglas hunt

        on my 76 400 Grand Prix I installed one of those distributor spring advance kits and retimed…..that alone made a noticeable seat of the pants difference, while I looked through the parts catalogs where I worked at the old Nationwide auto, ordering dual exhaust from the earlier models to bolt on……

        Like 0
  9. Art Engel

    I’ve always liked the Formula over the Trans am. I like the Formula hood better and I always hated all those I’ll fitting fender flares and lower plastic junk that came on the T/A. Unfortunately this car has all the plastic crap I hate.

    Like 1
  10. douglas hunt

    Personally I love the hood scoops on the Formulas……I am way past having to have a perfect example….one of these, or a regular bird with a Formula hood and I would drop in a SD455 4speed and enjoy it every weekend. No Cragers for me though, lol

    Like 0
    • 19sixty5 Member

      Would be nice to drop in a SD455, but you need some REALLY deep pockets and will have to hunt pretty hard. Just under 1300 cars were built, and no real numbers on the number of complete “crate” engines, blocks, heads etc available at the parts counter. I also like the Formula hoods, they remind me in a way of the Olds W25 hoods with the full length scoops.

      Like 0

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